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Presenting Baits Naturally

Presentation of baits in as natural a manner as is realistically possible is what you should aim to achieve to give you the best possible chance when fishing. Presenting baits naturally is not difficult, in fact it is dead easy and usually as quick and simple as presenting them poorly. All it takes is learning the correct way to do things first place.

The freshest of baits presented on too small a hook as a bunched up mess may get bites yet fail to catch fish as the barb is unable to penetrate the fishes mouth. Baits spinning uncontrollably in the current will be treated with caution and get few strikes from wary fish. Weakly hooked baits will fall off the hook at the first touch and have you fishing without bait or rebaiting for most of your trip.

When deciding how to present a bait the things to be kept in mind are hook sizes suitable for the species you will be targeting and size you expect to encounter, hook size that will adequately hold your bait, number of hooks that should be used 1 - 6 hooks, type of rig eg gang hooks, snooded rig, or simply a single hook, amount of weight required to get the bait to hold where you want it in the water column, amount of current present in the area you are fishing, and finally what are we trying to imitate with our offering.

Starting to sound too hard? Don't let it worry you, it pretty well comes down to small baits need small single hooks and big baits need larger and/or multiple hooks be they ganged or snooded. Easy again.

If you really want to see how to present a fresh bait naturally look at how it acts in water when it's alive. A worm will wriggle and twist itself around its own body with maybe a length of its head or tail section trailing. A pilchard, herring, hardihead or mullet will swim almost perfectly straight with just a slight wave in its body. A prawn will straighten its body out with only it underbody fluttering for propulsion but will flick its body strongly if approached or frightened before straightening and slowly sinking back toward the bottom. A squid will move backwards (head trailing) when travelling or resting but reverse and come in head first when attacking a food item which once grabbed will then be dragged away backwards again. If you can present your baits closely to what is above then catching fish will be something you will become very very good at, because the fish simply won't be able to resist the movements that have been imprinted in their brains for all their lives as being those made by things that taste good.

So how do we begin to start making our bait look natural? Again we just look at the real things, which you will notice share one of two shapes. One is long and thin, like bait fish, the other is soft and clumped like pippis and worms.

Soft clumped baits are pretty easy to reproduce, just carefully hook them on firmly as possible and make your trace long enough and sinker light enough to allow them move around in the wash.

Bait fish presentation and simulation takes only a little more care and sometimes a few more hooks. The reason being that except for very large fish that will inhale larger baits whole, most fish will either choose to bite the bait fishes tail, belly or head. Often this attack is size and species dependant, with bream and pike hitting from the side around the belly region, tailor snipping tails, and larger snapper crushing heads. Not a hard fast rule but the attack points for these species occur more often where stated.

Now a round up of the main points.

  • Match the hook size to the bait you are using while keeping in mind your target species.
  • Place hook/s in the most likely attack points of your taget species.
  • Trim your bait if neccessary to try and accurately mimmick a natural food item.

Don't sweat these points too much, spending 30 minutes sculpting a piece of mullet into a perfect replica of pilchard is 30 minutes you have not been fishing, and time in the water is as important as presentation. Just a quick but careful trim to get a basic shape initially (20 seconds max) is enough when you are starting out. As you progress you will become quicker and more aware of how your baits move and can make changes as needed. If for instance a newly baited pilchard starts spinning in the water, a slight readjustment of the top hook or snip of the tail should be enough to have your bait swimming relatively naturally again.

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